647 ideas to get your 2023 L.A. adventure planning started

Illustration of a women thinking about various activities
(Luke McConkey / For The Times)

When Gunnar Valgeirsson and Cristina Bodinger-de Uriarte met at a sociology workshop more than 20 years ago, the college professors did more than just fall in love — they vowed to keep dating long after they were married.

To illustrate the point, the passionate gardeners tackled The Times’ list of 41 of the coolest plant shops you can find only in L.A. as a way to keep dating alive in their relationship.

“Being able to identify local places to go and discover is a vital part of keeping our relationship fresh, even though we’ve been together 23 years now,” Bodinger-de Uriarte said. “We try to treat L.A. like we are visitors, because we have lived here a long time.”

In 2021, they started their weekend treks by organizing the plant shops by geographic location and then picked one part of town — spanning Montrose to Newport Beach — and hit three or four stores a day. They checked them all off their list this summer.

“What appealed to us right away is that they were all independent businesses,” Valgeirsson said. “Because it’s a small business, you really see the personality of the owner in the environment — we loved the variety at Tansy and the unusual pots at Juicy Leaf. You’re not just going to a plant store. You’re walking into an environment that is individualized. It’s so important in a world that tends to be generic.”

During their outings, the couple, who are in their 60s, encountered corners of L.A. they had never experienced before. With their feet on the ground, they marveled at Victorian homes in South Los Angeles and enjoyed a wide variety of exciting restaurants together. “I feel like it gave us a new key to the city,” Bodinger-de Uriarte said.

Although Valgeirsson had driven by many of their stops, getting out of the car and walking around was different. “It was liberating,” he said. “Los Angeles is so diverse and vibrant.”

Following a few tough years during the height of the pandemic, it can be hard to get back in the swing of planning local weekend adventures. Asked if they are up to tackling The Times’ 101 best restaurants in Los Angeles, Valgeirsson said he has “marked each of the 101 restaurant lists over the years” and they’ve tried a few, but Cristina is a gourmet cook and they enjoy cooking together.

Inspired by Valgeirsson and Bodinger-de Uriarte, here’s a list of more than 600 things to do in Los Angeles in 2023: